Historic Cemeteries Call to Action
- Last Updated: June 01, 2017
Nevada Assembly Bill 203
Update #6: AB203 was signed by the Governor and has become law! Congratulations to all who worked so hard on this. You have our heart-felt thanks for helping to preserve our heritage.
Update #5: AB203 passed the Senate with 20 (out of 21) yes votes! It's all up to Governor Sandoval now.
Update #4: The bill (AB203) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 7-0! Next stop the full Senate and then to Governor Sandoval's desk.
Update #3: CALL TO ACTION FOR AB203 — Senate Committee this Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m.
We continue to need your immediate action to help pass Assembly Bill 203. AB203 has made it through the Assembly and is now on to a Senate Committee this Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. We have come this far and we need to keep up the support and momentum to see AB203 through the Senate. The hearing will be in room 2134 at the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson St. Carson City, NV. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. Please email the members below. Tell them you are concerned about Nevada’s historic cemeteries and that it’s important to preserve them.
Update #2: The bill (AB203) passed the Assembly 38-4! Next stop the Senate.
Update: The bill passed out of committee with a 7-5 vote on April 14! Now on to the Assembly floor.
If you care about the future of Nevada's historic cemeteries, we need your immediate action to help pass Assembly Bill 203. If this bill does not pass out of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Assembly by April 14, it will die. There are only two more opportunities for this bill to be voted in committee, Wednesday April 12 and Friday April 14. Please email the committee members below, or, if you have the time, call (or text) or try to meet with them in person and ask them to vote yes on AB203.
Assembly Bill 203 will help protect all of Nevada's historic cemeteries, but Hillside Cemetery is the most critically endangered at the present time and may be lost forever if this bill does not pass. Sierra Memorial Gardens, who owns the common areas and pathways in Hillside Cemetery, is currently attempting to disinter over 1100 sets of human remains from this 1875 cemetery that lies just west of the UNR campus. They are claiming the cemetery is blighted and the bodies must be dug up and moved. Hillside Cemetery is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers. Sierra Memorial Gardens does not own the individual burial plots which are deeded real estate owned by the families (fee simple), but this has not stopped them. They have called upon their attorneys and lobbyists to try to kill AB203. They plan to sell and develop the large parcel of cemetery land while the entire community loses an important piece of its history. Their plan is to relocate all of these remains into a mass grave on the north end of the cemetery and call it a "cemetery restoration" project. Hillside Cemetery is the final resting place of many notable Nevada pioneers including the Peckham, Plumb, Mayberry, Marsh, Gould and Brown families, as well as a former Congressman and a Paiute Chief. Many descendants of those buried at Hillside are opposed to disinterment.
AB203 provides the following protections for Nevada cemeteries: it will prevent a cemetery authority from disinterring remains from burial plots owned in fee simple by another party. It will require a third party other than the cemetery authority to proclaim a cemetery so blighted that human remains must be disinterred, and will require proof that the cemetery cannot be restored before any disinterment can occur. In the event of disinterment, it will require a suitable burial receptacle that would prevent mass grave reinternment. AB203 also contains a provision that would allow the district attorney to transfer a neglected cemetery to a local government, if they consent to the transfer.
Your immediate action is needed to help save Nevada’s endangered historic cemeteries.